On Temptation and Immorality

“When he was released, Dudko was finally given his own church. His message changed. Where he had preached harmony and hope, he now preached rabid nationalism and anti-Semitism. He died lonely and bitter and mad. In Oliver Bullough’s bleak, beautiful The Last Man in Russia, a mix of biography and reportage, Dudko’s journey from defiance to submission to self-destruction becomes the archetypal Russian story: a broken man representing a broken nation.”

From a review, here [ http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2013/04/22/the-last-man-in-russia-the-struggle-to-save-a-dying-nation.html ]

I’d like to read this book. I am immensely curious about people like Dudko. I think of Wilde, who quipped about how great strength is needed to fall into certain temptations. And I think of an old Jimmy Croce song from a Brad Solomon novel, “The Gone Man”, he sang–do you ha’ tha feelin’ tha you wanted to go/ An’ yet ha’ tha feelin’ tha you wanted to stay? And I think again of the Fourth Tempter from Eliot’s play “Murder. . .”, who offered what was inevitable to a proud man–to accept martyrdom for the wrong reasons.

I am curious about people like Dudko, like the man in the Californero’s song, people like Archbishop Becket, because I think of myself and question my immorality. I think I admire these tales of tempted men because I am not sure if it is true that there are no temptations for me, if it is true that all there is for me is choice, then will, then ability.

What are the things so similar to our true natures as that they are likely to break us were they offered by an enemy?


Excerpt: Americanah

Farafina Books

americanahFinally, Aisha finished with her customer and asked what colour Ifemelu wanted for her hair attachments.
“Colour four.”
“Not good colour,” Aisha said promptly.
“That’s what I use.”
“It look dirty. You don’t want colour one?”
“Colour one is too black, it looks fake,” Ifemelu said, loosening her headwrap. “Sometimes I use colour two, but colour four is closest to my natural colour.”
Aisha shrugged, a haughty shrug, as though it was not her problem if her customer did not have good taste. She reached into a cupboard, brought out two packets of attachments, checked to make sure they
were both the same colour.
She touched Ifemelu’s hair. “Why you don’t have relaxer?”
“I like my hair the way God made it.”
“But how you comb it? Hard to comb,” Aisha said.
Ifemelu had brought her own comb. She gently combed her hair, dense, soft and tightly coiled, until it framed her head like…

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The Sanctity of an American Corpse

Gimba Kakanda's Blog

 500 killed in a fresh crisis in Jos onMonday. 20 shot dead by unknown gunmen in Postikumon Tuesday.10 killed in a Boko Haram attackonWednesday. 20 killed in a Boko Haram attackonThursday.30 killed in a Boko Haram attackon Friday. 40 killed in a Boko Haram attackon Saturday.Bomb goes off in church during service, 50 reported killed, many injured onSunday. As the more perceptive Nigerian journalists now know, these are the clichés that no longer attract readers no matter the best efforts of sensation-minded editors. These have been the headlines of Nigerian newspapers with which the psyches of thinking Nigerians are constantly harassed, so their empathies are bumbed and diminished, day in, day out.

Our silence over the killings across northern Nigeria…

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On Pseudo-literary/intellectual Bullshit


I am angry about the pseudo-literary/intellectual bullshit we let pass. So the internet has become open arena abi? The 20th century saw us getting worse and worse and worse! The “death of philosophy and art”, the “end of history”? And you did not know it was your own death knell?

We need to remind each other why the Humanities are so important. It is, in one phrase, “to keep philistinism at bay”. It is because music and light are as universal and mysterious as man and it is important to keep men aware of the mystery that is themselves, that sets them away from animals. And that music and light, whether in painting or writing, needs to be cultured. 

When we let the pseudo-literary/intellectual take over on account of the validity of “opinion”, we mess with the culture of progress and enlightenment than we are at the end of. The Humanities are important for our self preservation. We really should not be irresponsible.

On the Arrogant Writer


Don’t you think it is incongruous to accuse a writer of “arrogance” or being “egotistical” about a fiction he has written? Of course he knows that he knows his book better than you ever will. And what on earth is a book of fiction but the supreme creation of ego? Aren’t you far wrong to expect it to be otherwise?

Yet I hear these two words uttered as accusations!

There are few things a craftsman can be arrogant about and one of these is the work of his hands. Expect no prevarication from me on what I have done, I am confident about it, confident enough to give it to you to test and appraise it. In giving it to you, you get the right to appraise, you get a universal lease on it. But never forget that you are entering my world, not the other way around.


On Originality versus Authenticity

I am thinking about cliquey minded collectives and how interesting that, for purposes of psychology alone of course, a certain sort of artist cannot find validation in how well they pour themselves into their work. A lot of Nigeria’s young artists, in writing especially, posses talent but are lacking in authenticity, yet authenticity is what endures, for it is not a thing to be considered to be acknowledged by a fellow artist or a consumer of art. It is de-facto and in your face. It is not the same thing as talent, which merely produces some sort of original work.

Authenticity is what is there beneath the words, as potent as a slap or the hiss of a rattlesnake. It is the sense, for want of a better word, that gives a moral core to an artist. A moral core has nothing to do with morality. Cliquey minded collectives may produce original work, in literature and even art, but never authentic work. For the artists themselves are defective.

But then, there have been some for whom the lesser rung, mere originality or even less than this, is enough. To these unfortunates I say the salaam of politeness only.

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